Getting to know Fredi Torres, winegrower and head of Vinos OFF the Record
If you had to choose one word to describe Fredi Torres, it would be unstoppable. A Swiss DJ with a Galician heart who, aside from music, has a passion for wine running through his veins.
Wine lovers have to be grateful to this man who, as well as making wines with Swiss precision, with the elegance of simplicity, is the driving force behindVinos OFF the Record, the alternative festival that, for the past nine years, has been breaking new ground and gaining followers in both Madrid and Barcelona.
Let’s find out a little more about Fredi Torres and Vinos OFF the Record.
- Fredi, you were born in Galicia, but you have been living in Switzerland since you were a child. Do you remember the first wine-related experience that you remember fondly?
Yes. When I was four years old, in my family home in Galicia (O Grove) with my great-grandfather making wine for us to enjoy in the house; we had a mini winery, like every farming family.
- You have said that “the call to wine” came late. Can you tell us how that happened?
Yes. I rediscovered wine when I was 18 years old, thanks to a girlfriend in Switzerland, and from there I jumped head first into this industry.
- After training as a winemaker and starting to work in different countries and wineries, what in particular left its mark on you? What were those pieces of advice or things you were taught that you still use today?
I remember my first winemaking internship in Switzerland, with Mr. Henri Chollet in the vineyards of Lavaux. He has been like a father to me and a person full of common sense. He had a huge impact on me and helped me to create my personal style.
- Since then you haven’t stopped. You started out as a musician, working as a DJ in Switzerland, so as well as your passion for wine, you carry the festival vibe as well. How did you become involved in the Tast amb Llops organisation? An exhibition of wines that has become a benchmark in Gratallops (Priorat).
My love for music and the dance floor was such that I graduated as a Sound Engineer from the famous SAE school (Zurich, Switzerland) to become a better DJ and offer people the best of myself.
The same thing happened with wine, that’s why as soon as we arrived in Gratallops, we created Tast Amb Llops, with my friends who were like adoptive parents at the Cal Llop hotel, to offer something different and alternative to what was out there at the time, something with a higher quality and a more human touch that still pours everything into creating that unique atmosphere.
- After having gained experience as part of the Tast amb Llops group, how did the idea of creating Vinos OFF the Record come about? This meeting of winegrowers has broken the mould, and is held in Madrid and Barcelona, now in its ninth year.
Vinos Off the Record came to me after being in El Bierzo with Titín (Ricardo Palacios) and friends for some biodynamic training with our dear friend Pierre Masson (who was my biodynamic advisor). By not taking part in the food festival in Barcelona, I would spend those three days with a table at Monvínic, the wine shop, to showcase all my craziness and projects to my importers, but I felt lonely. On that night in El Bierzo I had the idea of gathering my friends, whom I admire and love, and starting an event that would be out of the ordinary, and that is how Off was born.
- Vinos OFF the Record has become an unmissable exhibition for wine enthusiasts and professionals alike. So, what’s the secret to its success?
To make Vinos Off the Record work, myself, my partner Ollivier Jacq (on the right, in the photo) and our team, put all of our energy, brains and resources into creating the best platform for the 50 producers present, as well as for the 700 visitors. And all together we have a good time creating work and making contacts, but without having the tiresome feeling of being at work, nor that it is an out-of-control frenzy.
That’s why we try pay close attention to every detail, we look for unique places with soul, we take care of all those people like our grandmother did, we try to give them a professional approach, but like we’re with friends. At the last festival in Madrid we had a foosball table and two arcade games.
In short, the driving force behind Off was never profitability, unlike other wine fairs; and we want to preserve that unique format that others are now trying to copy, which is why we regretfully reject more than 200 applications a year.
- What about your projects as a producer? Could you tell us a little about Fredi Torres the winemaker? What are your wines like?
To summarise FTV (Fredi Torres Viticultor) would take a long time, but I will simply say that 20 years ago when I arrived in Spain, I went against the grain by harvesting early and practicing biodynamics. Today I love to see others doing the same, let’s work together in that direction.
The wines I make always have a common thread which is respect for the identity of the area where I make them, the varieties I use, freshness and tension that provide crisp pleasure.
What I am doing in Switzerland is also very unique and worth discovering.
- You have projects in different wine-growing areas. Do you follow the same work philosophy in every region where you make wines, or do you adapt your way of working according to each area and each winemaker with whom you collaborate?
With more than 12 projects in 3 countries, it is difficult to talk about all of them, but I would say that almost all of them have a similar DNA, but then each one has its own character. I tend to adapt a little bit in each because I am sensitive to the people I meet, the landscape that surrounds us and the history of each place or grape.
- Something you always have with you is music. You have let your inner DJ come out to provide the entertainment for different tasting sessions and wine demonstrations by friends and winemakers; and as well as that, musical pairings are very fashionable these days. What do you think about pairing music and wine? Would you dare to suggest a pairing of a wine and a piece of music?
Music always goes with me on my travels (with the exception of Reggaeton, I listen to all genres), but I don’t think it works to play music in the winery or vineyard when I’m concentrating, but I always like to play music to relax when I cook and open a bottle of wine in the meantime, and as you say, they go perfectly with each other. Burgundy and Chopin, or a classical piano piece! A Barolo with Punk Rock or Joy Division! Or how about an Old Albariño with Funk or James Brown?
- Since you are so up to date with new trends, which winegrower or winegrowers should we keep an eye on? Or which wine region do you think is about to make a big splash and is worth investigating?
There are a few, but I have a feeling that Rioja is reinvigorated in a way that didn’t seem possible (Carlos Sánchez and José Gil are an example); Guti with his Mixtura project in Ribeiro is worth following, as well as the Som Vida Penedès collective, which brings together a team of young winemakers from the Penedès; and one that I am in love with is Raíces Ibéricas, which does a meticulous and almost Swiss work to save and enhance Spanish varieties with no-mess communication which is fun and more modern.
- Someone as unstoppable as you must also be forever searching and tasting until you discover new oenological treasures. Could you share with us the last wine you tasted that was a real coup de cœur for you?
What I have is simply a passionate affair that I try to make available to others trying to convey a message so that we take better care of nature, animals and humans.
It is difficult to select just one, but I would say Clos Stagasta, in Toinos, Greece, a wine and project that is out of the ordinary and reminds me of my madness. They will also be at Vinos OFF the Record Barcelona 2024.